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Prospective fathers are being urged to speak to their employers ahead of the change in parental leave rights allowing dads to share the first 50 weeks of leave from 5 April 2015.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) want parents to have conversations with their employers as early as possible about their parental leave rights and plans.
Shared Parental Leave (SPL) will allow couples to choose when a mum or dad takes 50 weeks of leave to care for the baby after the two week minimum maternity leave following birth.
The change will allow parents more freedom to choose how to divide childcare for the first year of their baby’s life.
Under current rules, fathers can take up to 26 weeks paid Additional Paternity Leave but only if the mother returns to work.
Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson said: “Shared Parental Leave will kickstart a change where fathers feel empowered to take time off to look after their kids and not feel constrained by outdated stereotypes. We recognise that this isn’t going to be easy for those at the forefront of the change but we also know that for many dads the nerves they feel about having a conversation with their boss around leave will be worth it in the end.
“Countless research studies show that more time with dads early on leads to better outcomes for children, not to mention the special family bond it creates. We also know that many employers are incredibly supportive and keen to offer mums and dads more flexibility. Employers will see the benefit in terms of staff loyalty and providing women the option to return to work earlier.”
There will be 285,000 eligible couples for Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) that will allow parents to take time off in a number of blocks during the year between the birth and the baby’s first year birthday.
Acas Chair Sir Brendan Barber said: “Businesses and employees should familiarise themselves with these new rights now as there are less than 8 weeks to go until Shared Parental Leave is available to working parents expecting a child on or after 5 April (2015).
“Our advice to eligible employees and their employers is to start having early discussions about the different options available so that preparing and planning the leave is as straightforward as possible. We are also running training courses to help employers prepare for the legal changes.”
To find out if you are eligible for SPL and ShPP please visit: https://www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay/eligibility